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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
I officiated at a wedding for some friends last year. The ceremony was over, the guests were mingling, the photographer was photographing, and the limousine wouldn’t start. It sat there in the church parking lot, hood up, and consternation on the driver’s face. How would the couple get to the reception? Who would pay if the limo had to be towed?
That’s just one story from one wedding. What if it’s not the limo that won’t run, but a bride that runs away? Or a groom?
According to the Associated Press, the cost of the average American wedding is about $26,000. Throw in a “destination” wedding and you’re easily looking at $50,000. Last minute cold feet can get mighty expensive. No wonder then that savvy insurance companies like The Travelers and Fireman’s Fund are offering wedding insurance policies. They see an opportunity to build a long lasting relationship with a couple who may want other kinds of coverage down the line.
The flaw in this nuptial calculation is that the only thing wedding insurance covers is the wedding. It can’t cover the marriage. It can’t insure a successful relationship. The irony is that couples (or their parents) will spend $500 for a policy to cover a $50,000 wedding, but most won’t invest in the information and skill sets they will need for a lifetime of wedded happiness.
Enter Prepare / Enrich, eHarmony, Match.com and other marriage preparation resources and dating services. Prepare / Enrich is a scientifically developed couple profiling tool that measures agreement across thirteen categories of a couple’s life. Some of the categories include communication skills, conflict resolution, money, sex, leisure activities and personality types. I’ve been using it for pre-marital and marriage counseling since 1996 and find it to be extremely accurate and helpful in uncovering the areas where a couple is or is likely to be struggling. A “couple agreement score” is calculated for each area. The higher the level of agreement in a given area, say 70-80%, the less likely the couple is going to have problems in that area. If problems are indicated we have time to work them out together before the wedding.
In recent years I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of couples who score very high agreement numbers across the board. In most cases the reason for that is that they have already invested in Marriage Insurance, not the kind you can buy from Travelers, but the kind offered by good preparation.
With that in mind I offer my top four Marriage Insurance recommendations for couples planning to wed.
1. Pray – James tells us that, “if anyone lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5. Most of us want to know who would be the perfect mate. Better to become the man or woman we need to be. Ask God to show you what you need to know and how you need to grow in order to become a good mate. Ask him to show you what kind of mate you need. Ask him to help you find him or her.
2. Play – Play the dating game and don’t worry about winning or losing. Services like eHarmony and Match.com offer the opportunity to meet people that you will already have an affinity with. Your couple agreement scores are going to start out higher than with people you meet at random. But nothing is perfect. Don’t expect the first person you meet to be “the one and only.” Take some risks. Enjoy getting to know people.
3. Pursue Wisdom - Proverbs tells us to “Get wisdom. Though it costs all you have, get understanding.” Once you are in a relationship that looks like it is moving toward marriage, get some good books and read them. My top two are Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, by Les & Leslie Parrott and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged, by H. Norman Wright, is also very good. Follow up with a Prepare / Enrich counselor as soon as you get engaged. Don’t wait till you are just weeks away from the ceremony. Time speeds up once the ring is on her finger.
4. Protect Yourself – By not living together or sleeping together before you are married. First, this is God’s plan, his design, and it is good. The hormones released in sexual activity blind the mind and bind the heart. It becomes extremely difficult to make a rational decision about the person who will forever shape your life experience for better or worse. Second, the divorce rate for couples who live together prior to marriage is 75%. It’s like trying to build the second story of a building on toothpicks. I once asked a co-habiting couple to separate for six weeks prior to their wedding, explaining these principles as I did. They did and immediately after the service they both thanked me saying, “it made everything so much better!” Respect your love and protect your heart. You will experience God’s blessing in obedience.
And what of my friends with the dead Limo? Well, they didn’t have wedding insurance, but they had invested in Marriage Insurance. As it turned out, the Limo only had a dead battery, someone gave them a jump, the couple rode in style to the reception, and they lived happily ever after.